Advisory Committee on Historical
December 8-9, 2003
Robert Schulzinger, Chairman
Wm. Roger Louis
Brenda Gayle Plummer
Office of the Historian
Marc Susser, Historian
James Van Hook
Laurie West Van Hook
Bureau of Administration
Brian Dowling, A/RPS/IPS
Harmon Kirby, A/RPS/IPS
David Mabon, A/RPS/IPS
Margaret Peppe, A/RPS/IPS
National Archives and Records Administration
David Kepley, Office of Records Services - Washington, DC
David Langbart, Life Cycle Management Division
Don McIlwain, Initial Processing and Declassification Division
Jeanne Schauble, Director, Initial Processing and Declassification Division
Marvin Russell, Textual Archives Services DivisionMarty McGann, Textual Archives Services Division
Central Intelligence Agency
Department of Energy
Bruce Craig, National Coalition for History
OPEN SESSION, December 8, 2003
Chairman Robert Schulzinger called the meeting to order at 1:20 p.m.
Approval of the Record of the September 2003 Meeting
The committee approved the record of the September 2003 meeting.
Election of Committee Chair for 2004
A member of the committee nominated Roger Louis for the chairmanship of the Historical Advisory Committee in 2004; he was elected unanimously. Louis thanked the committee and suggested changes in the way future meetings would be conducted. The length of the meetings would be expanded, and the committee members will regularly meet with the HO staff to get to know volume editors and the topics they are researching.
Report by the Executive Secretary
Executive Secretary Marc Susser reported that the next Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) publication, on the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, would be released in conjunction with HO’s upcoming conference on January 12 and 13: "The United States, the Middle East, and the 1967 Arab-Israeli War."
Susser noted that the off-site session at Coolfont had been successful and very useful. He then discussed his trip to Guatemala to attend a conference hosted by the Guatemalan Foreign Ministry and National University on the recently released FRUS Guatemala retrospective volume. His participation generated positive press coverage. Susser also discussed the November National Council for the Social Studies Convention and the work the office is doing with social studies teachers on a series of educational historical videos and accompanying curricula.
Gayle Plummer asked whether HO had attempted to increase the number of Arab or Arab-American scholars participating in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War conference. Laurie Van Hook, the conference coordinator, replied that more Israeli scholars were researching the 1967 war and had submitted paper proposals, but that the office was seeking help from various Department bureaus and embassies to identify possible Arab participants.
Doug Kraft reported that the proceedings from the Guatemala conference would be on the HO website in the near future. The office will make all conference papers and the conference video available on the web.
Status Report by the General Editor
Edward Keefer, FRUS General Editor, presented a summary of the current status of FRUS. There are 25 historians presently compiling volumes. In the Nixon-Ford subseries, 57 volumes are planned; print will outnumber e-volumes by 2 to 1. There are 21 manuscripts completed: 3 have been published, 3 have been fully cleared, 5 have entered the final clearance stages, and 10 volumes have begun the clearance process. Historians are conducting research for 19 volumes. Fifteen volumes have yet to be started. The Declassification and Publishing Division now has seven historians to expedite manuscript editing and declassification.
Margaret Hedstrom asked for clarification on the duties of the Declassification staff. Deputy Historian David Herschler explained that there are multiple levels to the review process and often many agencies are involved. The staff coordinates the complex declassification review process.
Louis inquired as to where the publication bottleneck occurs. Herschler felt that a previous lack of staff in the Declassification and Publishing Division had contributed to a bottleneck created by some agencies in the declassification review process, but now the process should flow more smoothly.
Louis then asked about quality control and training for new staff. Keefer said that the office had instituted a multiple review process whereby the division chiefs, the general editor, and technical editors review volumes before publication. In terms of training, senior compilers hold informal seminars for new staff. The office FRUS Style Guide is also a useful tool for compilers. Herschler added that the office is looking for ways to streamline the publication process.
Declassification and Opening of Department of State Electronic Records
Robert McMahon reported for the subcommittee on State declassification and implementation of the revised E.O. 12958. McMahon said that the subcommittee had met with Brian Dowling of the Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS), three members of his staff, and two representatives of HO to discuss State declassification of 1976-81 records. Dowling described to the subcommittee the progress his staff had made at Newington and noted that 7,000 boxes containing millions of documents still required declassification. The deadline for transfer of these materials to NARA is December 2006. Dowling told the subcommittee that he needed to prepare a report for the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) indicating whether or not the Systematic Review Process (SRP) team can meet its deadline. He is confident that the SRP will meet this goal.
Dowling also informed the subcommittee of the difficulties inherent in the declassification process and showed them the voluminous declassification guidelines used by his reviewers. One technical difficulty is that only retired Foreign Service officers can conduct declassification reviews because of the specialized nature of the material being reviewed. Another is that every document recommended for release with excision must receive two separate reviews. In addition, the guidelines relating to the review of Foreign Government Information (FGI) are complex, difficult to apply, and can be very subjective.
The subcommittee suggested to Dowling that in the near future the guidelines used by State reviewers should be placed in an accessible electronic format. Subcommittee members then inquired about researcher access to withdrawn documents sent to NARA and were told that documents are re-reviewed on demand. The subcommittee raised the possibility of returning to a 10-year systematic re-review, as was mandated by the former Executive Order 12958, and of turning the declassification of exempted documents over to NARA instead of routing them back to State for review.
Schulzinger then called on Dowling to present his quarterly report on State declassification. Dowling stated that his staff had 6,600 boxes and 16 ½ million pages to review by December 2006. These figures include only the paper documents, not the electronic records or P-reel documents. Dowling informed the committee that his report to ISOO would detail how his staff proposes to meet the declassification deadline. The report will also identify the three types of records IPS reviewers must examine (textual, electronic, and P-reel documents) and the time constraints posed by each. The textual records are the most voluminous of the three, while the electronic records are composed of approximately four million documents.
Each box of paper records takes an average of 20 to 25 hours to review. In addition, Dowling said that there were approximately 400 ACDA boxes, and an unspecified number of USIA boxes, still to be reviewed. The ACDA boxes are difficult to review, taking an average of 30 hours each, since few reviewers are cognizant of the terminology contained within the documents. The USIA boxes take an average of 10 hours per box to complete.
Dowling stated that IPS has instituted changes to meet the December 2006 deadline. IPS has begun hiring more annuitants, has expedited the hiring process, and is also working to increase both the number of hours retired annuitants may work and their salary limit. IPS has proposed offering contracts to those reviewers who have reached their financial cap as WAE staff. He stated that student interns could assist in expediting certain aspects of the process.
Schulzinger asked if the annual IPS declassification report was completed, as the committee utilized the report in drafting its own report to Congress. Dowling replied that the report was almost complete and would cover the progress made during 2003 and would explain the plan for reviewing Department records from the 1976-81 time period.
Margaret Peppe of IPS then reported on the transfer of State electronic records to NARA. She stated that the memorandum announcing the bureau’s participation in pre-release viewing of the proposed fully releasable cables on the classified intranet was on the Under Secretary for Management’s (M) desk for approval. The bureaus have until January 31, 2004, to review the cables and raise any issues regarding release. IPS is working with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Air Force (AF) to have their clearances at the time of transfer. Peppe also indicated that the formal transfer of 1973-74 records between the State Department and NARA was slated for February 2004.
David Kepley of NARA reported that NARA had successfully resolved the last remaining technical issue concerning the cables. NARA has developed a way to insert the declassification marking on cables so that when the documents are downloaded, each page will contain the appropriate declassification marking. Schulzinger asked Kepley at what point, after NARA’s receipt of the records, researchers could access the materials. Kepley replied that the materials should be available 6 months after the transfer and all declassification activity by the Department of Energy and the Air Force had been completed (approximately August 2004).
Meena Bose asked about the IPS undergraduate interns, what role they would play, and how long they would be available. Peppe clarified that the individuals in question were not really interns but part of the outstanding scholars program. The Department recruited these young people from local colleges and universities; they work at IPS for 1 or more years, while completing their education. Peppe added that the outstanding scholars, although fully cleared, will concentrate on reviewing unclassified materials, since they do not have the necessary experience and training to review classified records. Peppe reported that the outstanding scholars selected would probably begin work by late spring or early next summer.
Margaret Hedstrom asked about the next round in the transfer of electronic records to NARA. She inquired about IPS plans for processing the 1975-76 records, and whether IPS would meet the 25-year deadline. Peppe replied that, given its work on the current block of records (1973-74), IPS might complete its review of the 1975 electronic records by the end of the year. Dowling said that he planned to complete the transfer of the complete set of records (1975 and 1976) by the end of 2006. The Department’s records, he explained, are accessioned as a "package deal" of three parts: microfilm (P-reels), electronic (telegrams), and paper records. In response to Herschler’s query, Peppe reported that the relevant electronic indices would also be sent to NARA. Dowling added that IPS would transfer the records as a block for each year and would, much as with the paper records, withdraw those electronic records that must be protected on the basis of security classification.
The committee adjourned for a break, followed by a brief Executive Session, at 2:30 p.m.
CLOSED SESSION, December 8, 2003
The committee reconvened at 3:18 p.m.
Status of Declassification under the Kyl–Lott Amendment and Other Related Issues
Schulzinger introduced Ken Stein from DOE, who distributed a handout to the committee detailing the status of the DOE special declassification review effort under the Kyl-Lott Amendment. DOE reviewers, he said, had reviewed all but 18 million of the several hundred million pages slated for review since the amendment’s passage in 1998. Most of the remaining records were military documents. Jeanne Schauble mentioned that those 18 million pages included some Department of State documents. Stein replied that the DOE expected to complete its review of State Department records soon. Once the DOE had completed its review of these final 18 million pages in 2006, it would turn its attention to so-called "pipeline documents," the roughly 200 million pages declassified but not made public before the passage of Kyl-Lott in 1998. Stein said that under the Special Historical Records Review Plan other agencies could speed the Kyl-Lott review. He encouraged all interested agencies to re-review pipeline records so that the records can be made available to the public in a timely manner. Don McIlwaine said that the review of documents does not mean that they are automatically made available to the public.
Stein reminded the committee that the DOE was required to submit quarterly reports to Congress and the National Security Council. These reports are available on the web.
Plummer asked about the length of "quality-assurance reviews" of newly declassified documents. Stein responded that the process was generally prompt, usually taking 1 to 2 weeks. For example, Stein said, 1.5 million pages recently had undergone a quality-assurance review in 1 month.
Schulzinger asked if the DOE review was really necessary since, despite a requirement that it submit quarterly reports to Congress, the agency had yet to receive a comment or response from a member of Congress.
Adam Hornbuckle of the Air Force then presented his report on the Air Force’s special declassification review. The review, since it began in June 2002, had focused on Record Group (RG) 59, the Department of State’s general files. Hornbuckle explained that Air Force reviewers are no longer auditing records page by page, but are instead sampling the remaining boxes in RG 59. This new method had greatly reduced the number of boxes of concern to reviewers. He added that he had received no complaints that the Air Force’s review was hindering the work of private researchers or FRUS historians since the committee’s last meeting.
Schulzinger asked when the Air Force expected to complete its special review project. Hornbuckle responded that his reviewers would finish RG 59 by next year and that they would then start on RG 84, the Department of State’s Post Files. He expected the review of RG 84 to take at least the rest of calendar year 2004.
Stein asked whether documents in forthcoming FRUS volumes receive a Kyl-Lott review. Schulzinger and Herschler both affirmed that they do. Herschler distinguished between documents that are currently in declassification and documents that other agencies declassified earlier. The Department of State does identify other agencies’ equities in the FRUS declassification review process.
Stein asked whether the staff that handles the declassification coordination at State receives the week-long review training that DOE offers. Harmon Kirby of IPS said that all staff members who make determinations about restricted data receive the training. Stein noted that his office also offers a refresher course, which he recommended for staff who had their last training several years ago. Hornbuckle said that an AF equities briefing is also available.
In response to the committee’s concerns about withdrawn records previously published in FRUS, Hornbuckle and Stein agreed to contact Nancy Smith of NARA and discuss the situation at the Presidential Libraries.
Schulzinger then asked for comments from IPS on the SMART system. Peppe said that the contract had gone to Northrop-Grummond, and that the company had established a very aggressive schedule. David Langbart of NARA said that NARA and State are trying to move forward with a joint effort on disposition issues in the SMART system. Schulzinger asked about completion dates, and Langbart said the expectation was that a prototype would be completed by the end of February. Schulzinger asked for an update when the committee meets again in March.
Dowling said he had no new issues to discuss, and Nancy Smith was not present to make her comments as scheduled.
Jeanne Schauble of NARA said that the material noted on Ken Stein's chart for Quality Assurance was "pipeline material." In other words, some pipeline material is getting out. This material is largely State Department material because researchers are requesting it, she said.
The committee adjourned at 4:20 p.m.
CLOSED SESSION, December 9
The committee reconvened at 9:10 a.m.
The CIA and the Foreign Relations Series
Schulzinger asked Herschler to deliver his report on the status of FRUS volumes sent to the Agency for review. Herschler noted that 18 months had elapsed since the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed and that the two offices had met every quarter to review progress under its terms. At the September meeting, the committee expressed concern regarding the pace at which volumes were reviewed, as well as regarding the backlog of volumes at the CIA prior to the signing of the MOU. Herschler said that since the last meeting, the CIA has reduced the number of volumes in the process of declassification from eight to seven, although the problem of meeting the 180-day de facto deadline remains an issue. In addition, four volumes are nearing completion, so the backlog should be substantially reduced by the time of the next meeting.
According to Herschler, this progress is in large part due to a better level of collaboration between HO and the CIA. More working level staff have become involved. For example, the Information Review Officers (IROs) in the various Directorates, as well as additional information management staff, are involved in the declassification review process. The off-site training at Coolfont contributed to this improved cooperation. The presence of a substantial contingent from the CIA at Coolfont facilitated the process of mutual understanding of the priorities, challenges, and constraints faced by each side. Lastly, flexibility in adjusting to unanticipated issues regarding the MOU has also contributed to an increased level of cooperation between HO and the CIA.
Despite these advances, certain issues remain. HO’s concerns are not so much with the substance of denied documents but with the process. In particular, the Agency has identified a number of documents from several FRUS volumes that were improperly declassified. Herschler asked, "How do we account for omissions in our volumes when the CIA wants HO to publish redacted versions of already fully declassified documents that have been available at NARA?"
HO has submitted 10 volumes to the CIA in the previous 18 months, generating concern about the resources available at the CIA. Herschler noted that some of the compilers who have been with the office for nearly 2 years are completing volumes; soon HO will be putting one volume a month into the declassification process.
The CIA stated that additional people have been hired to help with reviews of FRUS. The CIA agreed with Herschler that the Agency has made progress, but has not caught up. The Agency has completed the review of three volumes from the 1969-72 period.
The Agency then discussed the issue of clearing the backlog. Because there will be more documents added to the Global Issues volume, the Agency has stopped its review pending the receipt of the new documents. Meanwhile, the IRO assigned to Western Europe has finished the review. Reviews of Arms Control and Southeast Asia, 1969-1972 are almost complete.
The Agency recently sent State the updated text of the "Covert Action" note that has been placed in FRUS volumes, which has been updated for the Nixon administration volumes. The Agency hopes that State will concur with the text of the note.
Schulzinger observed that there was a lot of public interest in the Congo, 1964-1968 and Chile, 1969-1973 volumes. He stated that he had received three inquiries from people in the last 3 months about when the Congo volume would be available, to which he had replied that it was in process. Schulzinger maintained that the longer it takes these volumes to appear, the more concern there will be. Schulzinger wondered if progress had been made on the Congo volume since the joint HAC-HRP meeting in June. Schulzinger noted that the CIA was getting closer to meeting its de facto 60-day general review and 120-day declassification review deadline.
Schulzinger had heard that there had been a problem with access to 303/40 Committee minutes, and hoped that the CIA would accommodate HO researchers by providing access to copies in their files. James Van Hook, the joint State-CIA historian, responded that he was unaware of any problems with access to those files and was surprised to learn that anyone thought that there was a problem. Keefer explained that HO historians had encountered some difficulty with the 40 Committee files, but that this was a result of changes in record-keeping methods from the period and not because the documents were lost, misplaced, or that access was denied.
Van Hook reported to the committee that his primary task was to facilitate HO historians’ access to Agency documents. Many HO historians have done research in CIA files recently. He noted that the collections can be hard to use because they are not centralized. Then Van Hook shifted to a discussion of the Coolfont offsite session this past October. He briefly reviewed the papers that a panel of six participants had presented.
Bose then asked Herschler if the problem of improperly declassified documents was still a cause for concern. Herschler responded that it was important to be aware of this issue from both a substantive and procedural standpoint. He indicated that the CIA was looking at the results of decisions made on documents in FRUS that were already declassified at NARA.
Rhodes turned back to the Chile and Congo volumes and noted what appeared to be good progress. Schulzinger said that he believed the Congo volume would be one of the most important in the FRUS series. He mentioned the release of the Guatemala retrospective and the positive public response to that volume in the United States and Guatemala.
Watson expressed his disappointment with the CIA’s progress, noting that seven forthcoming volumes were delayed. The Agency indicated that its resources were spread thin, given its multiple responsibilities and constituencies. Watson responded that State also had multiple responsibilities, but he recognized that the CIA did face different demands on its time. In response to a question from Hedstrom, the committee discussed with the Agency the amount of time and effort involved in the CIA’s declassification process.
Schulzinger closed the session by indicating that the committee would like an update on the status of the Congo and Chile volumes at the HAC’s March meeting.
The committee adjourned for a break at 10:00 a.m.
Efforts to meet the 30-year Publication Line and Efforts to Prepare Retrospective Volumes in the Foreign Relations Series
The committee reconvened at 10:10 a.m.
Schulzinger thanked former HAC member and consultant Meena Bose for her work on the committee. Bose thanked everyone for the opportunity to have worked on the committee.
In response to a request from Schulzinger, Louis presented the report of the HAC subcommittee on FRUS. The proposed list for the FRUS volumes for the Carter years, he said, reflected an excellent organizational approach. The subcommittee recommended, however, that the chart begin with thematic volumes and then proceed to bilateral volumes. The subcommittee also stressed the importance of including a volume on the United Nations.
Keefer explained that HO had initially decided to put UN affairs into the Global Issues and Human Rights volume. Based on subsequent discussion with the subcommittee, HO will likely put United Nations affairs and other multilateral issues into an e-publication volume. Keefer agreed to put topical issues at the top of the Carter administration list of volumes, before the bilateral volumes. With regard to the subcommittee’s discussion of the Arms Control volume, he pointed out that HO plans to publish a SALT volume to cover the Ford and Carter administrations. The list of volumes, Keefer pointed out, is not final.
Louis noted that there had also been some discussion about declassification issues with CIA. He asked Hedstrom to summarize. Hedstrom said there was not much to add to what had been said earlier in the morning.
Louis asked if it would be possible to see the manuscript of the Iran retrospective volume at the next committee meeting. If a subcommittee could not view the manuscript at State, Keefer responded, arrangements could be made to view it at CIA.
The committee discussed the 1964-1968 FRUS volume on Japan.
Susser then made some comments to the committee. He had been struck by Keefer’s observation that there were presently more volumes in production than there had been historians in the office 3 years ago. Susser would be working on HO’s budget that afternoon. Based on what he had heard about funding levels for the current fiscal year, there would be budget cuts. However, while he was neither overly optimistic nor overly pessimistic, he thought it likely that HO would emerge from the budget process with enough money to continue along its present course. Susser noted that the Department of State continued to operate on the basis of a continuing resolution.
Schulzinger asked Van Hook if there was anything else he would like to report to the committee. Van Hook responded that he was about to begin secondary reading on intelligence operations, 1947-60, for his next volume.
At 11:01 a.m. the committee adjourned for staff comments and executive session.